Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Classics - Iron Fist #15

   One of Marvel's hidden gems from the '70s was the super-hero / martial arts mix that became Iron Fist.

   Created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, the hero was a clever combination of the story of a hidden, mystical city and the martial arts craze.

   As a boy, little Danny Rand is raised in a hidden paradise, where he becomes a master of the martial arts, and finally gains the power to turn his fist into a glowing focus of his spirit - in other words, an Iron Fist.

   Several artists took a shot at the series during its brief life, but the series was a launching pad (at Marvel) for rising star John Byrne, working with his future X-Men collaborator, Chris Claremont.

   They did stunning work on the series, wrapping up with this issue - the last in the initial run of the series (though Byrne and Claremont would transplant the hero into their Marvel Team-Up run, and then to the combined Power Man and Iron Fist comic.

      But their final story here was a barn-burner, being a strong entry in the classic collection of stories wherein heroes meet for the first time, fight, and then become fast friends.

   In this case, we have Iron Fist fighting the X-Men, as that fantastic Dave Cockrum cover gives away. It's a heck of a lot of fun, as Wolverine mistakes Iron Fist for a burglar (Misty Knight is sharing an apartment with Jean Grey / Phoenix, natch).

   Wolverine leads with his claws, of course (it's fun to note he's wearing a different costume, for reasons X-Men fans may know), and soon the rest of the team joins in.

   The issue had the added benefit of showing that Iron Fist was a serious hero - able to hold his own with the powerful team of mutants (we're talking Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Banshee, Phoenix and Cyclops).

   I remember being a fan of the series, and shocked when it ended - how could fans not be buying this series? But that's the danger of being a comics fan - even a book that should be a fan favorite can fail.

   Of course, Claremont and Byrne had better luck on the X-Men title, guiding it to a spot on the top of the charts that it would hold for decades.

   Iron Fist didn't have the same luck - but for a while there, it was mighty good.

Grade: A



Mr. Brooks said...

Man o man. That was a great issue! I made it a mission to acquire the original Byrne run. Ans was even more happier when the run was put in

Wow. I miss super-hero comics.

Mr. Brooks said...

Plus seeing Storm getting pelted by a bowl of potato salad is still funny!

Kevin Findley said...

Iron First Gracie? ;)

Chuck said...

Argh! Thanks for the catch in my misspelled title, Kevin - now corrected!